Browns president Mike Holmgren said resolving the quarterback issue was his highest priority and he meant it. In a span of one week, Holmgren gave the position a total makeover.
On March 8 the Browns traded a conditional seventh-round draft pick to the Seahawks for Seneca Wallace. Derek Anderson was released the next day. On March 13 the Browns signed Jake Delhomme to a two-year contract. The next day Brady Quinn was traded to the Broncos for running back Peyton Hillis, a sixth-round pick in 2006 and a conditional pick in 2012.
By cutting Anderson and trading Quinn, Holmgren turned a page the Browns have been stuck on since the start of the 2008 season. They are 9-23 over the last two years, and though Ken Dorsey and Bruce Gradkowski lost the last four games in 2008, Holmgren was convinced the only way to move on was to cut ties with both Anderson and Quinn.
"When I watched film of last season, forget about the reasons," Holmgren said. "When (Quinn and Anderson) played the way they played, it's pretty hard to win games. I felt I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't attack that situation."
Quinn was 2-7 as a starter in 2009. He completed 53.1 percent of his passes while throwing eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions and posting a passer rating of 67.2.
Anderson was 3-4 as a starter. He completed 44.5 percent of his passes while throwing three touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.
Delhomme, 35, threw eight touchdown passes and 18 interceptions last season. Holmgren believes last season was an aberration for Delhomme. He also knows his reputation as a quarterback evaluator is on the line.
"I don't look at him as an aging veteran," Holmgren said. "I look at him as the leader I want in the locker room, if in fact he's the starter.
"When I was able to sit down and talk with him about (2009), I said, 'I've watched you play and played against you a long time. What the heck happened?' He was very candid and open. Once we had that discussion, if there were physical reasons why (Delhomme had the bad season) we probably wouldn't have done it because you can't overcome that."
Delhomme's deal is for two years. The Browns are likely to use one of their 12 picks on a quarterback in the draft next month. He said he was not promised the starting job. He knows he has to perform to silence the skeptics.
"I have to go out and prove it," the Browns newest quarterback said Wednesday. "I can feed you whatever kind of line you want me to feed you, but I don't know what good that's going to do. I have to go out and play well. That's how you get it turned around."
Holmgren coached Wallace in Seattle from 2003-2008. He said Wallace will have the chance to compete for the starting job. For now Brett Ratliff is the third quarterback.
--The Browns traded 2006 first-round draft choice Kamerion Wimbley to the Raiders for a third-round pick next month. Coach Eric Mangini said a surplus of outside linebackers made Wimbley expendable.
"Kamerion was a team player, a hard worker and all those things you look for," Mangini said. "We have a lot of things we need to address. At outside linebacker we have Matt Roth, David Bowens, Jason Trusnik, Marcus Benard, Scott Fujita has played there. .. There are a lot of candidates there."
--After trading Wimbley and Brady Quinn the Browns have only two of 11 first-round picks remaining since their return to the NFL in 1999 -- left tackle Joe Thomas, picked third overall in 2007, and center Alex Mack, picked 21st in 2009.
Tight end Ben Watson, signed in free agency, was a first-round pick by the Patriots in 2004.
--The Browns have 12 picks in the draft next month -- one in the first, one in the second, three in the third, one in the fourth, four in the fifth and two in the sixth round.
--Mangini said Peyton Hillis, the running back acquired from Denver for Brady Quinn, will be a complement to Jerome Harrison. Hillis weighs 245 pounds and can catch the ball.
"He's a physical runner," Mangini said. "That adds an element to the offense that's a little bit different."
Hillis rushed for 343 yards and five touchdowns on 68 carries as a rookie with the Broncos in 2008 under Mike Shanahan. He was converted to a fullback last season by first-year coach Josh McDaniels and rushed for only 57 yards.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "My belief is this team needs an aging veteran. They need a guy who can grab everybody by the throat and say 'Follow me through that door.'" -- Browns president Mike Holmgren on Jake Delhomme.